Sunday, 11 January 2015

Veg Lasagna Roll-Ups

It was around June last year when we had invited some of my husband's German colleagues for a dinner. Considering their intolerance for spice levels, I decided to play safe and planned an Italian dinner complete with Lasagna et al. So on my holiday to Hong Kong prior to the dinner event, I bought some packets of Lasagna sheets as I wasn't too sure where I could get them here (although I could easily find them in my nearby grocery store later). However, at the last moment, my guests requested to be served an Indian fare as they, surprisingly, loved Indian food and would often eat out in Indian joints. My poor lasagna sheets did not get their due attention ever since and had been staring into my face every time I open my pantry and making me realize that they are soon reaching their expiry date. 
Finally, I got a chance to hold a High Tea get together at home to welcome some Indian friends in my neighborhood and I knew instantly what to serve them! As we were meeting over tea, I did not want to overdo the food and so prepared some lasagna roll-ups instead which are easy to serve, quick to make, good to eat, and perfect for the occasion without giving a mealtime effect!!! I happy, my Lasagna sheets happy, and my guests happy!! 😀
I completely forgot to take the picture of the ready lasagna as I took it out from the oven and served it to my guests. Luckily, there was just one piece left and that made for this picture!! 😛

8 sheets of lasagna
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
For the sauce
1 1/2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (you can increase or decrease the quantity depending on the quantity of other vegetables that you are going to use)
1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped 
1 big onion finely chopped 
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped 
1/2 carrot finely chopped 
Handful of peas
Handful of sweet corn kernels 
1 can whole plum tomatoes squashed (if you are using fresh, use 3 medium sized juicy red tomatoes blanched and skin removed)
Red chili flakes as per taste
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 tbsp olive oil 

For the filling 
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese grated/mashed (I used homemade paneer)
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese 
Chopped fresh herbs like basil/oregano/parsley or similar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste 

Start with making the sauce as it is the most time consuming part and needs to be cooled down before using. 
Heat  oil in a pan and fry the garlic till lightly browned. Follow up with the onions and fry till translucent. Now add the chopped veggies one by one frying for 3-5 minutes after each addition. Lastly squash the tomatoes, either canned or freshly blanched, and add it to the pan. If using canned tomatoes, there will also be some reserved liquid. Add it to the pan. In case of fresh tomatoes, add about 1/4 cup of the water in which you blanched the tomatoes. Stir well and season as per your taste. Do not add too much salt at this point as we need to reduce the sauce. Let the sauce simmer for 25-30 minutes till the veggies are all thoroughly cooked and there is just about 3-4 tbsp of liquid in the sauce. As I was making roll ups to go with evening tea or coffee, I did not want to make the lasagna too soupy and make it look like a main course rather than a snack. However, the sauce consistency is totally upto your liking and preference. 
Remove from heat and let it cool. 
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a bowl, take the mashed cottage cheese/ricotta cheese and all other ingredients and mix to a smooth paste. Cover and keep aside. 
Now boil some water in a wide pan, wide enough to hold the lasagna sheets without folding and bring it to a boil. Add the sheets and cook it till al dante. If you are making lasagna for the first time, I would suggest keeping a close look as the lasagna sheets are usually available as ready to bake and there is no need to cook them. However, for making the roll-ups this step is necessary. As such, the sheets will get tender within 5-6 minutes. Keep an aluminum foil ready to place the cooked lasagna on top without over lapping and prevent sticking. With the help of a pair of tongs, gently lift the sheets one by one from the water without breaking and place it on the prepared foil.
Let it cool. Now spread the filling on each cooked and cooled sheet and spread it out. Gently roll it up from one end to the other. Repeat for all the sheets. 
 Grease a baking dish big enough to hold all the rolls and spread a layer of the prepared and cooled sauce. Now place the roll ups one by one in a single layer  till all the space has been covered (I forgot to take a picture of this step). Follow up with another layer of the sauce till all the roll ups are well covered and spread out. Top with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese. 
If you are baking it right away, then pre-heat the oven at 175 degree celsius while  you are assembling the roll-ups. If you are baking it at a later time, you can keep it covered with foil in the refrigerator until half an hour before baking. Then bake it in the pre heated oven for 20 minutes till the cheese is bubbling and the sauce looks slightly reduced. Take care not to over bake else you will end up with dry rubbery roll ups. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to handling temperature. Serve warm! Sorry no picture of the final dish! 😔 But I plan to make it soon again and this time I won't forget! 😜


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